Drawing to Scale

The whole idea behind creating a scale drawing is to keep the objects in the drawing proportionately accurate in relation to each other. By using a measuring device called a scale you can create accurate drawings of very large objects on a standard size piece of paper.

Scales Used to Create a Design Drawings

1:4 Scale pronounced: "One Quarter Scale" or One Quarter Size.
1/4 inch on the scale = 1 unit on the object being drawn.

By extension, if we use 1/4“ graph paper, one 1/4” block can equal one inch, one foot, one mile, one light year etc. For architecture, 1/4“ usually equals 1’ (1/4 inch = 1 foot). Scaling is really up to you but be consistent with all measurements and dimensions otherwise the end result will be useless. Always note what the scale you used on the drawing and whenever possible use industry standard scales.

Engineering and Architectural Scales (in this case the word scale is being used as a noun referring to a type of measuring device) are made in a triangular form so that they can be marked with different scale ratios for versatility. Typically, a triangular scale has 12 different ratios on it - 6 on each end and related ones (like 1/4 and 1/8 for instance) interlace in opposite directions without interfering with each other. Below is what an Architectural Scale looks like.


How to Use Them

The scales on the Architectural Scale (isn’t it nice the way they make explaining this so easy:) are all related to measurements in feet and inches. Above is a representation of 1/4 scale. One quarter inch equals one foot. Notice that at the beginning of the scale the first 1/4” is divided into 12 subdivisions, one for each inch in a foot. Notice also that the ”0“ point starts after the initial smaller subdivisions. Watch out for that. If you don’t remember that the zero mark is not at the beginning of the scale you will end up with an inaccurate drawing. It is set up that way to make it easy to layout feet and inches - like 4’ 6”. The 4’ would use the main part of the scale and the 6“ would use half of the inches designation on the end. That makes laying out a drawing very easy.  By using 1/4” graph paper you will greatly reduce your drawing time. The Architectural Scale will help you with the inch measurements on your design drawing.  
For initial design layouts, accuracy to 1 inch is good enough. The contractor and cabinet maker will measure much more accurately, of course, but for your design drawing one inch is usually just fine.